There are lots of considerations that the Court’s look at when determining a child custody decision. All of the considerations fall under the umbrella that is "what is in the best interest of the children" and what will promote the children’s happiness and welfare. However, the Court analyzes various sub-factors including but not limited to:
- Which parent was traditionally the primary caregiver to the children
- The availability of each parent to spend time and care for the children
- The willingness of each parent to co-parent and share information with the other parent
- The willingness of each parent to foster the children’s relationship withe the other parent
- The ability of each parent to provide for the intellectual and emotional needs of the children
- The nature and quality of each parent’s home environment
- The children’s preference (usually only considered when a child is old enough to make a rational determination)
- The quality of care each parent provides the children
- The stability of the home life of each parent
- Abuse, neglect, and domestic violence history for each parent
- Alienation of the other parent and/or interference with the other parent’s visitation
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Age and health of the parents
- Mental and emotional stability of the parents
- Ability of parent to NOT involve the children in the marital conflict and custody case
- Courts favor children continuing to reside with their siblings
In New York, an 18 year old person no longer subject to an order of custody. S/he can choose where s/he wants to live. Moreover, many courts will hesitate to influence the choice of a 16- or 17-year-old, unless the teenager has serious problems or his/ her choice seems unreasonable. The preference of the child is considered, as it may indicate which parent has bonded more with the child.
So, if your 17 year old wants to live with you, it is likely that the court will give his/her preference a great deal of consideration. Moreover, if your 17 year old is going into his/her senior year of high school, it is unlikely that the court will want to make him/her change schools--especially if your spouse lives in a different school district than you do.
I hope you find this information useful.
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***Answers given are for informational purposes only and are not meant to replace the advice or assistance of an attorney licensed to practice law in your state. If you need any more information, please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you!